Fractures of the spine can occur due to a traumatic injury or from low bone density. These fractures result in severe pain and prevent normal physical activity. Spine fractures can be treated with a minimally invasive approach involving insertion of a small balloon into the site of injury. The balloon helps to realign the damaged bone followed by cement injection to secure the injured bone in position. Patients report significant reduction of pain as well as return to normal activity significantly faster when compared to conservative therapy.
What is a Spine Fracture Repair (Compression Fracture)?
Vertebroplasty (Spine Fracture Repair) is a minimally invasive procedure for treating compression fractures of the spine. A compression fracture is a collapse of the bone, often caused by osteoporosis or cancer. This procedure stabilizes the weakened or crushed bone, decreasing the pain and helping to prevent further fractures at that site.
ABOUT COMPRESSION FRACTURES
Vertebrae are the bones of the back, which join together to make up the spinal column. In a compression fracture, the bone tissue of the vertebral body collapses. This condition is commonly caused by osteoporosis and less often by tumor or trauma to the back.
When the fracture occurs as a result of osteoporosis, the vertebrae in the chest and lower spine are usually affected and symptoms may become worse with walking. With multiple fractures, a forward hump-like curvature (kyphosis) of the spine may result. Symptoms depend upon the area of the back that is affected. In some cases, the fracture may heal without treatment and the pain goes away. In others, the bone does not stabilize and continues to move, causing persistent pain that in turn limits physical activities.
How does the procedure work? Am I a candidate?
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE PROCEDURE
The therapy is performed by inserting a special needle into the affected bone and injecting a glue-like cement substance, which strengthens the internal structure of the bone.
Vertebroplasty requires that you lie on your stomach, which is performed under light sedation. The interventional radiologist inserts a needle through a small nick in the skin in the back, directing it under fluoroscopy (continuous, moving X-ray imaging) into the fractured vertebra. The physician then injects the medical-grade bone cement into the vertebra. The cement hardens within 15 minutes and stabilizes the fracture, like an internal cast. Vertebroplasty takes from 1-2 hours to perform depending on how many bones are treated. Typically, many people can resume normal activities within 24-48 hours.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR VERTEBROPLASTY?
The best candidates for the procedure are those people who have recently suffered a compression fracture and are having moderate to severe back pain. Vertebroplasty is not usually helpful for chronic back pain or disc problems. To determine whether vertebroplasty is the right treatment for the patient, the doctor will order X-rays of the patient's spine, and other imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a bone scan. These tests help to determine where the fractures are and how recently they occurred.